What a moving story!
Recently, news about a married couple from Penang tragically losing their only child became viral online, but because of a touching reason.
Two years ago, Mark Kok Wah and his wife, Ariess Tan, lost their 18-year-old daughter, Carmen just three months after she moved to Singapore to study nursing under a full scholarship. She suddenly had an arterial rupture in her brain, which rendered her brain dead after being hospitalised for 25 days. This ultimately caused her to pass away.
Mark was given the option to donate Carmen’s organs, which was certainly not an easy decision to make. However, despite many family members being extremely against the idea, thinking she would make a full recovery, he ended up agreeing to donate her organs.
“At that time, a close doctor friend had told me that ‘Allah lebih sayangkan Carmen‘ (God loves Carmen more). I knew then that there was nothing else we could do for my little girl,” he told the New Straits Times.
“It was then that I decided to donate her organs. I have not regretted the decision I made on that fateful day back in July 2015. Today, Carmen lives on in eight different people.”
Although two years have passed since her untimely death, Mark and Ariess have left Carmen’s room exactly as it was when she was still alive, with her shoes still at the entrance to their house.
“Every night, I would go up to the attic to cry there while my wife would do so down here. Our baby girl’s death affected the both of us very badly,” he told the daily.
Since Carmen’s passing, Mark had been wanting to hear his daughter’s heart beat again, expressing on Facebook that he was even willing to cycle 14,000 miles.
However, he wasn’t aware that the woman who received Carmen’s heart follows him on the social media platform!
37-year-old Serene Lee reportedly had been following Mark on Facebook since the year Carmen passed away. She got to know about him when she read about the passing of his daughter in the news.
Serene reportedly suffered from dilated cardiomyopathy, which required her to depend on a mechanical pump to keep her heart beating correctly. One week before she received Carmen’s heart, she actually gave up and wanted to be removed from the donor waiting list, but was advised against it.
Luckily, because of staying on the waiting list, she had gotten Carmen’s heart and now lives a healthy life with her children.
After coming across his status, Serene messaged Mark on Facebook, telling him that she wanted to meet him and sent him her phone number.
Mark called her and the both of them immediately began to cry on the phone. “I told her it would be better for us to calm down before we talked further,” he said.
Once they had each other’s contact details, they created a WhatsApp group with Mark, Ariess, and Serene in it. Mark said it felt like the good old days when they had a group chat with their daughter, saying, “Now, our daughter is a 37-year-old.”
Since then, they have been communicating back and forth. Now, Serene will be visiting Penang this Friday (15th September) until Sunday (17th September) so the grieving parents can hear their daughter’s heart beat one more time.
Mark also shared that Serene had almost given up hope after failing to find a suitable heart donor.
During Serene’s visit, Mark and Ariess plan to bring her to the Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah bridge where they scattered Carmen’s ashes.
As for the future, Mark wants to help fight the taboo subject of organ donation, and Serene has agreed to join him, planning to open the Carmen Mark Foundation to help those who suffered the same fate as Carmen. He told the daily, “Just like how our Carmen had saved lives, we hope that we will be able to inspire others to also do the same.”
He also plans to film a documentary about his family’s story. As for Serene, she hopes to live her life to the fullest as a way of showing her gratitude to getting Carmen’s heart.
We’re glad this story has something uplifting out of it! It’s never easy when your child suddenly passes away, but we wish Mark and Ariess all the best in their fight to keep Carmen’s memory alive. <3
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